Determination, Home, Poetry, spirit

Then the Day Comes

Then the day comes when you return.
The dog leaps at you
shrieking with such abandon you almost cry.
As if you’ve just been to the mailbox and back,
your dear ones barely look up.

How is it the same dishes are piled in the sink,
same library books in a stack by the door?
The fines must be in the thousands by now.

You peel off your shoes and nudge them
into the space on the rack.
The road has worn through the soles
and deep between the bones
of your right foot,
an ache
like the hunger
that became so much a part of you,
you stopped noticing

(or tried to)

You had bigger problems out there.
The understudy,
the one who knocked you sideways
and sent you walking
all the way around the world,
wasn’t going without a fight.

She poisoned your food
when you dared take a rest,
cut holes in your pack
and dumped your maps
in the gutter.
She bared her teeth and called it a smile,
offering you the mercy
of freedom. She’d take the pain
when you surrendered the story.
Small price, she said. Stay gone.

A formidable opponent.
She even dreamed your dreams of drowning.

Your dear ones, they didn’t know
how far away,
how hard you were trying
to get back.
It stings a bit that she had them fooled,
that flat simulacrum. But she was clever
enough to make them say thanks over dinner
and to whine just a little when she lost at cards.

Oscar-worthy, that performance,
but she could never tune to the pulse
coming from deep in the earth
that calls you always
back to you.
That was what did her in.
You were not strong or brave.
You just stopped finding comfort
in her promise of release.
Pain, it turns out, isn’t the worst thing.

You kept walking.
That is all.

Then the day comes
when you return
as if from the mailbox.
Your dear ones don’t hear the scuffle
just outside the door,
the snarl of the imposter
as her disguise blisters away,
as you banish her from this place.

Only the dog
hurtling across the room
to herald your arrival.

Image: Jamie R. Morheim, The Vigil

activism, Poetry, race, Take Action

Out Loud, With Your Very Own Voice

The way the kindergarten teacher called it on the first day of class.
The way the receptionist spoke it into the waiting room before the annual checkup.
The way the librarian whispered it when entering information on the card.
The way the coach boomed it during lineup.
The way the camp counselor hollered it at the YMCA summer Olympics.
The way the local newspaper listed it among the loving grandchildren she left behind.

The way the principal announced it during the graduation procession.
The way the future in-laws enunciated it during that first meeting.
The way the minister intoned it when asking the dearly beloved to witness this holy union.
The way the nurse confirmed it before writing it on the birth certificate.
The way the HR assistant checked its spelling when setting up the job interview.
The way the emcee declared it at the awards ceremony.
The way the children proclaimed it when asked who their people are.

Continue reading “Out Loud, With Your Very Own Voice”

body, Choices, Love, Poetry, Relationships

How to Write a Love Poem


1. Here is your blank page.
A crease deepening in the fold of their neck.
A spiderweb alongside the eyes.
Knuckles nicked and gnarled
from every saw blade that has ever gone sideways.
Their hull with its jagged seams lashed back together
more times than even they can count,
Yet strength enough still to flip you like an egg
over easy, your wet yolk intact (but not for long).
Their silhouette against the moonlaced slats,
looming, flesh-wrapped,
lifting the crenulation of your ribs
smoothing the oil they somehow coax
from pockets
you forgot you’d sewn into the edges of your whispers.

Continue reading “How to Write a Love Poem”

Family, Growing Up, Poetry, Relationships


thread fleur

The magnifying lamp on its swiveling neck,
bent glass thick as thumbs
guide her fingers to find the warp
and weft.
Putting off the inevitable.
Pretty much the whole story
from the moment we begin.
Don’t tell the kids this.
Let them lose their grip on immortality
the old fashioned way.

To outlive the sharp focus of adolescence.
We should all be so lucky.

Continue reading “Backstitch”

Letting Go, memory, Poetry, prayer



An angel, a puppy, a music note.
She was not wearing these when she left.
Neither the black and copper choker,
the latticework of wire,
the abalone cuff.
She had not strapped on even one of the five Wonder Woman watches
to keep track of the time
it would take.
If she had clasped the anklet with its tiny bells falling against her foot,
we may have heard her go.
She didn’t want anyone to stop her,
we tell ourselves.
She waited until the house was quiet
after all.

Continue reading “Charming”

Letting Go, memory, Poetry, prayer, spirit

The Weight of Prayer

Prayer Flag Suspension Bridge

Sometimes your prayer weighs as much as a dump truck
filled with all the lost things
you dredged from the place you are trying to rebuild a home.
Sometimes it weighs as much as an ember at the center of the pit,
mostly ash but still burning.
Sometimes your prayer presses against your throat
you don’t know if you’re supposed to spit it out or swallow.
Sometimes your prayer hides inside the lines of your shadow.

Continue reading “The Weight of Prayer”